To George Goyder   6 October 1868

Melbourne botanic Garden,



Observing that in all probability you will proceed at an early date to Arnhem's Land to effect surveys, I have the honor to draw your kind attention to the desirability of securing such plants during the stay of your staff and party as readily will present themselfes for collecting.

The process of pressing plants into paper and thus drying them by daily change of the latter is so easy, and the advantages to be obtained for further information on the vegetation of Arnhemia, will be so useful, that occasional spare moments devoted to such purposes, will bring at last about great results, without involving any direct outlay whatever.

The late J. M. Stuart, even when accompanied only by two men, formed important collections of plants in Central Australia, and thus aided in obtaining knowledge of the Flora of the country far inland.

Altho I spent many months in 1855 and 1856 in Arnhemsland,1 I had no opportunity to visit the special localities, on which your particular attention will be engaged. And even if I had been there, I could not have obtained the plants, as they present themselves during different parts of the year. You will be aware, that I am engaged with the President of the Linnean Society of London, to elaborate an universal work on the plants of the whole Australian continent, of which work just the fourth volume has appeared.2 To obtain additional material for this great work, on which I have spent now nearly £8000 private means, and for which I devoted in Australia a great part of my time ever since 1847, — I seize eagerly every opportunity, and in as much as the plants of the north coast are both geographically and phytologically as yet imperfectly known, I trust to your well known scientific inclination, to bring with you as large collections back as you can. I may remark, that the names of the finders are always carefully recorded in my works. Any plants from the smallest herb, grass or moss to the most stately ones will be welcome. Branches of Eucalypti and Acaciae, ever so common there, should be secured with plants as well of rarity. Both in flowers and in fruits all plants ought, if possible be secured, to render their identification and description as complete as possible. Paper is easily emptied out again for further use, by placing the perfectly dried plants into any boxes becoming empty. Whatever collections are made might be divided between the botanic Gardens of Adelaide and Melbourne.

I have the honor, to be Sir, your very obedient

Ferd von Mueller

M.D., FRS.


Surveyor General



The packages of plants within paper, if placed during the mid days stays in the sun or during the night near the bivouak fire, are easily dried without a labourious changing of paper, especially if the packages are frequently turned and subdivided3

During the North Australian Exploring Expedition, 1855-6, M only skirted the edge of the region known today as Arnhem Land. The main focus of the expedition was further west, in the Victoria River region.
Bentham (1863-78), vol. 4.
MS annotation presumably by Goyder on 19 October 1868: 'Reply that if I go to the Northern Territory a collector nominated by Dr Schomburgk accompanies me & that any suggestions Dr Müller may think it desirable to make shall be carefully attended to. The collector nominated by Dr Schomburgk is […] named Schulze who takes his son his time is to be devoted wholly to the Govt. & he is to collect [in] botany & Natural History'. See also G. Goyder to M, 21 October 1868, and M to G. Goyder, 30 October 1868.

Please cite as “FVM-68-10-06,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 29 March 2023,